Vaccination has nothing to do with the rare Guillain-Barré Nerve Disorder

Main point:

Researchers have found no relation between the vaccination against tetanus, hepatitis, pneumonia or flu and the Guillain-Barré Nerve Disorder.


Clinical Infectious Diseases

Study Further:

Guillain-Barré Nerve Disorder is an autoimmune disorder, though rare, in which temporary paralysis occurs. In an autoimmune disorder, person’s own immunity starts working against the protective coating on the nerve fibers. It is usually preceded by a bacterial or viral infection and develops in a period of days to weeks. It affects one in 100,000 people.

For decades, researchers are working on whether any kind of vaccines, such as flu vaccines or other, could lead to Guillain-Barré syndrome or not. Now, in this huge study spanning to about 13 years and covering millions of patients, it is finally clear that vaccines are not causing Guillain-Barré syndrome.

“There’s definitely a connection in people’s minds that vaccines cause this syndrome. But if you look at the (medical) literature, that doesn’t bear out,” said Dr. Roger Baxter, co-director of the Vaccine Study Center at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California, and the study’s lead author.

Researchers found 415 cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome in the hospitalized cases from Kaiser Permanente Northern California from 1995 through 2006. These cases were out of nearly 33 million person-years, an amount that shows both the number of people tracked and how long they were followed. They found that 2/3 of 415 cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome had gastrointestinal or respiratory infection in the weeks before developing the syndrome. Only 25 cases of vaccination were presented within six weeks of the onset of GBS.

“The bottom line is we think vaccines are very safe for this outcome, that they do not result in GBS, and if they do, it’s so rare it’s nothing to be worried about,” Baxter told Reuters Health.

Researchers have also reported that the syndrome is nearly 50% more common in winter.




Baxter, R., Bakshi, N., Fireman, B., Lewis, E., Ray, P., Vellozzi, C., & Klein, N. (2013). Lack of Association of Guillain-Barre Syndrome with Vaccinations Clinical Infectious Diseases DOI: 10.1093/cid/cit222

Usman Zafar Paracha

Usman Zafar Paracha is Assistant Professor, Pharmaceutics, in Hajvery University, Lahore, Pakistan.